HC Deb 16 December 1993 vol 234 cc1347-61

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

8.25 pm
Mr. Adam Ingram (East Kilbride)

It is most unusual to commence the Committee stage of such an important Bill just 15 minutes after it has received its Second Reading. Usually hon. Members are allowed a reasonable number of days to examine and reflect on what the Minister said on Second Reading and to consider the other speeches, although, given some of the contributions from the Government Benches during today's debate, little reflection would be necessary. That opportunity has been denied us tonight, as it was last night in the same way during our proceedings on the Statutory Sick Pay Bill.

Usually, having considered the debate, there is an opportunity to consider the clauses in great detail and to submit suitable amendments. Sadly, that is not to be because the Government are forcing the Bill through for reasons which were dealt with in detail during the debate on the guillotine motion. I am sure that if I started to go through all those arguments again, Mr. Lofthouse, you would rule me out of order, so I have no intention so to do.

Because of the procedure imposed by the Government, and to ensure that we continue the debate constructively and build on the many important points raised by the Opposition, we have chosen to have a clause stand part debate immediately. Many crucial matters at the heart of Government taxation policy were raised on Second Reading. As they were not adequately dealt with in the Government responses—certain specific questions were asked, but not answered—this debate gives us a further opportunity to probe those issues and concerns.

On the surface, clause 1 appears to be fairly innocuous. Anyone who is not versed in the obscure terminology used in drafting Bills could be led to think that the clause does not amount to much. To put the matter in context and so that we can better grasp its content, it is worth reading the clause. Subsection (1) states: In section 8 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 (calculation of primary Class 1 contributions), in subsection (2)(b) (by virtue of which the main primary percentage is 9 per cent.) for '9 per cent.' substitute '10 per cent.'. Subsection (2) is easier to understand: The above amendment comes into effect on 6 April 1994. I thought long and hard about how the clause had come about. I knew what it meant after I had worked my way through the verbiage, but I could not quite work out how a Government who go on and on about being a tax-cutting Government could introduce a Bill, the main clause of which imposes a massive tax increase on the British people. I found that difficult to comprehend. I pondered the matter and I anticipated the possible reason. Then, suddenly, it came to me like a flash of divine inspiration.

I visualised the Cabinet meeting when all that took place. There they were, sitting round the Cabinet table, each and every one of them a senior Minister of State. The Chancellor was telling them that the Government—riot exactly this Government and not exactly under this Chancellor—had made a terrible mess of the economy during the past 14 years, so something drastic needed to be done. He called for them to speak up if they had any ideas about how to get the Government out of the hole in which they found themselves.

Up popped the Secretary of State for Social Security —he might even pop up tonight. He said, "Please, Sir, please, Sir. I have an idea. I know what we should do. I have a little list. We should punish the sick, the disabled and the poor and impose new taxes on the working people of Britain. They should pay for the Government's mistakes. Why don't we increase national insurance contributions?"

That is exactly what the Government did and that is why we have the Bill. The clause, stripped of its legal verbiage, increases employees' national insurance contributions from 9 per cent. to 10 per cent.—coupled with the national insurance contribution increases on the self-employed—and will take an extra £2.26 billion out of the pockets of those workers. That is £360 million more in taxes than if the Government had put 1p on the basic rate of income tax.

As we would expect from the Government, that increase is designed to hit those on low wages harder than those on top salaries. National insurance contributions apply more to those lower down the pay scale than income tax does. That means that half a million workers too poor to pay income tax will nevertheless pay national insurance contributions. As my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) pointed out on Second Reading, the poor pay more with national insurance increases.

Examples of the effect of the increase have already been given, but it is worth doing so again during this clause stand part debate. The 1 per cent. rise in national insurance contributions will mean that a shop assistant earning £6,000 a year will pay an extra 38p a week in contributions, whereas a 1p rise in the basic rate of tax would cost nothing.

The rise in national insurance contributions will also hit those on middle incomes more than the very rich. A company secretary earning £430 a week—just over £22,000 a year—will pay £3.75 extra in national insurance contributions, which is nearly 1 per cent. of his wage. However, a senior executive earning £220,000 a year will pay exactly the same—£3.75 a week—in extra national insurance contributions, which is less than 0.1 per cent. of his salary. All that is against the assurances given by the Prime Minister when he told the House on 28 January 1992 that he had no plans to raise … the level of national insurance contributions."—[Official Report, 28 January 1992; Vol. 202, c. 808.] I wonder why the Prime Minister was not prepared to be more honest with the House and the country on that issue.

While the Prime Minister was trying to conceal the truth, his Chancellor has been much more honest. A headline in the Daily Mail today says, "Clarke Comes Clean". That, as my hon. Friends have pointed out, is an admission by the Chancellor that the 1 per cent. increase in national insurance contributions is part of the biggest tax hike in our history. It is an admission that what is laid down in clause 1 is part of the—there is a debate about whether it is £9 or £10 so, for argument's sake, I shall say £9—increase in taxes that the average family will have to pay next year and part of the £16 a week increase in taxes the year after.

The Chancellor may have come clean with the Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee yesterday, but we now know that he is playing dirty with the British people. As my hon. Friends have pointed out during the debate, higher national insurance contributions are characteristic of this pay-more-get-less Tory Government.

This is not the first increase in contributions that the Government have introduced. The standard rate was increased from 6.5 per cent. to 9 per cent. in the 1980s. What is most striking and most cynical is that those rises were never accompanied by an improvement in the level of national insurance benefits. The recently announced reductions in unemployment benefit are only the latest and most blatant example of that more-for-less policy. Merging unemployment benefit with income support to produce the job seeker's benefit is a cynical ploy wrapped up in a semantic change.

Cutting the contributory element from 12 to six months will remove 90,000 people from entitlement to any benefit after six months—50,000 men and 40,000 women. Cutting benefits to raise money is the traditional approach of a Tory Government who have created their own fiscal crisis. Beyond that obvious short-termism is a more damaging policy—the destruction of the contributory principle to the national insurance fund. All that is relevant to clause 1.

My hon. Friend the Member for Garscadden earlier demanded that the Secretary of State should tell us whether there is to be a new reduced rate of benefit for unemployed people under 25. I am sure that those young people would like to know. That question was repeated by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Bradley), but no answer was given.

Unemployment benefit is paid on a non-means-tested basis because that is how people expect the system to work. They pay into the national insurance fund on the understanding that doing so entitles them to benefits, irrespective of other factors such as age. What matters, or used to matter, is the number of contributions made. That is the basis of a contractual relationship, and it is the basis on which the fund was established.

In the past, people could expect that paying national insurance contributions would provide for their security in their old age. We know exactly what the Secretary of State and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury now think of that principle. What an insulting message has gone out to the British people. On the other hand, they have been told that they must contribute more to the national insurance fund, but on the other, they have been told that they must make their own pension provision because what they will get from the fund will be nugatory. That is what the Chief Secretary has said about future pension provision, following his famous put-down of the "No, not now, not ever" Secretary of State for Social Security.

The Government have a clear agenda of increasing taxes and reducing benefit. That means reducing unemployment benefit, invalidity benefit and pension entitlement. Research estimates have shown that, if the current approach to pensions uprating had been in place since 1948, today's £56.10 single pension would be worth only £23 a week. I am sure that everyone will agree that no one could live on that. We have heard such a payment described as not worth a bag of nuts. Perhaps that should be rephrased and the payment described as being worth only a bag of nugatories.

The long march through benefit levels has been accompanied by a systematic programme of making them harder to obtain and the link between contributions and entitlement has been consistently eroded. Receiving partial benefits for partial contributions is almost a thing of the past. The qualification for short-term benefits has been made more difficult while at the same time regulations have increased to cut off the jobless from benefit.

The Government's approach to the management and financing of the national insurance fund shows a clear contempt for the contributory principle and for the needs of the British people for security against illness, poverty and unemployment and in old age. The national insurance system operates on the basis of the trust and consent of contributors. Clause 1 and the benefit changes that accompany it in the two Budgets this year are an affront to that trust and consent.

The previous Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke of the urgent need to address the deficit in the fund. He said: when a deficit of this size emerges in the fund, it is natural to look to all contributors to make up the balance."—[Official Report, 16 March 1993; Vol. 221, c. 179.] Last night, we debated the scandalous proposals to cut statutory sick pay. During that debate it became clear that reductions in employers' national insurance contributions were used as a bribe to persuade companies to take their new sick pay obligations lying down.

In their zeal to cut benefit expenditure, the Secretary of State for Social Security and the Chancellor have made it impossible to ask all contributors to make up the deficit. Consequently, the burden of propping up the depleted national insurance fund is being placed on employees on middle and low incomes.

This debate will allow the Minister to deal with the many issues raised on Second Reading. I am sure that my hon. Friends who contribute to it will pose further questions for him to answer. In the light of the debate that surrounded the Budget, does the Minister think that such a massive tax rise as the one prescribed by the increase in national insurance contributions is justified? Will he let us into a little secret and tell us what alternatives to the national insurance scheme were considered and then rejected by the Cabinet, or must we wait until the next unified Budget before we learn of the next increase in contributions and cuts in benefit?

On Second Reading, reference was also made to the half a million people who are too poor to pay income tax, but will be expected to pay national insurance contributions. I have said the same during consideration of this clause. Will the Minister confirm that figure, or does he have a different figure to give the House?

Other questions were raised by my hon. Friends the Members for Garscadden and for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Bradley). Will the Secretary of State confirm whether additional payments for adult dependants will remain, once the contributory job seeker's allowance has been introduced? Will he clarify that the basic rate of job seeker's allowance for those under 25 years of age on income support will not mean a reduced rate of benefit for all unemployed people aged 25? Those questions were asked twice on Second Reading. I appreciate that we are only 15 minutes away from that debate, but I should have thought that the Minister had had time to reflect on them. If his colleague could not answer in his summing up on Second Reading, perhaps we can have the answers in relation to this clause.

Ms Ann Coffey (Stockport)

I wish to discuss the proposed cuts in invalidity benefit, which is funded out of national insurance contributions. Since early this year, rumours of cuts in that benefit have created fear and uncertainty. I am worried that that fear and uncertainty for people currently receiving invalidity benefit will continue because they will be subject to stricter reviews if they are to continue receiving benefit. Many people who receive that benefit face having it removed.

The Government's rationale for that is the growth in the number of people receiving invalidity benefit. Indeed, that is their rationale for cutting all benefits—apparently, too many people receiving benefit cost too much. The Budget debate touched on some of the economic reasons why the Government seem unable to discharge their responsibilities as guardians of the welfare state. However, that is not the responsibility of the sick, who seem to have become the Government's new scapegoats, adding to a long list that includes trendy teachers, politically correct social workers, spendthrift councils, soft doctors, and women, particularly single mothers.

The Independent Policy Studies report shows that 29 per cent. of the growth in invalidity benefit has occurred because people are staying on invalidity benefit rather than taking retirement pension; 16 per cent. has occurred because more women are paying national insurance contributions, which makes them eligible for invalidity benefit; 13 per cent. is due to demographic reasons, in that there are more disabled people; and 42 per cent. is because of a genuine growth in the number of people claiming invalidity benefit among a stable population of disabled people. That is to do partly with new claimants and partly with the fact that people are staying on invalidity benefit longer.

The Government have deduced that, because of the increase in invalidity claimants at a time when the nation's health is supposed to have improved, the increase must relate to the fact that people are not really sick. Health statistics clearly show that ill health and disability are increasing in areas of poor income. I am worried that those people will be penalised by the new rules for eligibility.

The Government say that the problem is that GPs are too soft and take undue account of their patients' needs. They will not act effectively to control access to invalidity benefit. I suspect that that is a gross generalisation, as some doctors do assist claimants by providing ample information, and some do not. The Government also say that the benefit is used as an early retirement benefit and point to the number of men over the age of 50 receiving invalidity benefit, which was a deliberate Government policy to encourage people to take invalidity benefit to remove them from the unemployment register.

That is where the Government are acting extremely immorally. Some people who have taken early retirement receive invalidity benefit and face the possibility of the benefit being removed following a review. They considered that they had entered a contract, part of which was that they were retiring through ill health. Having retired early, they will now find that that benefit will not continue.

To establish an objective criteria, there is a clear cut-off point. It is difficult to be objective about people's illness because it depends on people's skills and the availability of jobs. It is worrying that certain categories of people who clearly cannot work—for instance, people with mental illness or ME—

Mr. George Howarth (Knowsley, North)

My hon. Friend rightly spoke of the Government's contract with people who have retired in terms of what benefits they will receive. Does she agree that part of their contract is national insurance contributions? People believe that they will be eligible for benefit after retirement, in whatever circumstances. Is not that an important part of that argument?

Ms Coffey

I totally agree with my hon. Friend, who makes a valid point. Many people will be angry that the Government have reneged on their contracts and put them in difficult personal circumstances. We shall probably see a rerun of the complaints from the public, similar to those about the implementation of the Child Support Act 1991, the effect of which is a consequence of the criteria that were not transparent at the time—

8.45 pm
The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse)

Order. I hesitate to intervene, but the hon. Lady is going rather wide of the clause. The debate is about contributions, not benefits.

Ms Coffey

I apologise, Mr. Lofthouse. I got carried away by a sudden insight into the comparison with the implementation of the Child Support Act.

Will the same hard criteria apply to the review of those currently receiving invalidity benefit as to new claimants? The Minister is creating a new class of people that will consist of those who are not fit enough to work, and their position will be exacerbated by employers' obligations to fund sick pay. Yet those people will be unable to receive invalidity benefit. They will be rejected by employers and by the benefit system at a time when employers have choice because of the level of unemployment. Employers are not happy to employ people with any kind of sickness record. That is a serious problem.

The problem with such a cut in benefit is that it affects dramatically individual families' financial arrangements, about which it is difficult to make gross generalisations. As a reaction to that, we shall see a lot of anger and frustration and many people will feel let down because they have paid national insurance contributions all their lives and regard it as an insurance to protect them against the consequences of illness. Clearly, the Government are reneging on their contract with those people and people will feel betrayed.

Mr. Nicholas Scott

As the Committee will be aware, clause 1 is the principal clause in the Bill. As the Opposition spokesman acknowledged towards the end of Second Reading, this is essentially a one-clause Bill. Inevitably, therefore, the debate has added several questions to those raised, and in the main answered by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, on Second Reading.

The effect of the clause is to increase by 1 per cent. the rate of contributions made by employees who pay the main rate for the benefit.

The hon. Member for East Kilbride (Mr. Ingram) made several points about those who will be affected by the proposals. He asked for confirmation of the number of people whom he described as too poor to pay income tax but still liable to pay higher national insurance contributions.

Any employee whose earnings are below the tax threshold but who is still liable to pay NI contributions will earn entitlement to a whole range of contributory benefits in return for a relatively small contribution. It thus remains an extremely good deal for people affected in this way. Someone earning £65 a week will be entitled to a range of NI contributory benefits for between £1 and £2 a week. That represents good value for the people concerned.

My hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) has asked me to apologise to hon. Members for not answering all their points in detail, because the guillotine came down. I understand the concern of those who have discussed the job seeker's allowance. Detailed questions of our policy for this benefit will be open to full debate at the time, but it would be only right to give hon. Members some idea of the answers that are likely to be delivered then.

We are concerned to ensure by means of the Bill that the national insurance fund can, for the immediate future, meet its expenditure commitments. None of the announced changes for the future will affect the fund for 1994–95, the year with which we are concerned today.

We were asked whether the job seeker's allowance would be uprated by reference to the retail prices index or to Rossi. The answer is Rossi. We were also asked whether the income support pattern—a lower rate of personal allowance for those under the age of 25—would be reflected in provision for the job seeker's allowance. I can confirm that on present plans it will be reflected in the new allowance. That is only right, since it reflects the lower earnings expectations of people under 25 and the fact that the vast majority of them do not live independently.

Mr. Dewar

I wish to challenge the Minister, although I recognise that he does not want to be involved in a full-scale debate on this—there will be time for that later. He really should face up to the problem, however. He knows that the income support differential which is apparently to be imported to the new job seeker's allowance is in itself controversial and has given rise to a good deal of bitterness. The Minister and I have personal experience of talking to people under 25 who have said that in some ways their living expenses are higher. There is no reason to suppose that a 24-year-old can live more cheaply than a 26-year-old. There is an arbitrary divide, which is reflected in a substantial differential in benefit. It will cause many people anger and distress to discover that the concept is being imported to the new job seeker's allowance—allegedly as an improvement.

Mr. Scott

I have certainly taken part in some vigorous debates, inside and outside the House, about the under-25 rate. Wherever one draws the line, it is bound to attract an element of controversy. The underlying principle—that younger people have lower earnings expectations than older people, and are generally less likely to be living independently—is correctly reflected in the provision that we make through the social security system to meet their need. It is therefore right that the principle used in income support should be reflected in the arrangements that we make for the job seeker's allowance.

Mr. Dewar

It is fundamentally misconceived to defend the idea in terms of lower expectations of earnings. The real test is living expenses. There is no reason to suppose that they are lower at 24 than at 25. That is the wrong starting point. Understandably, having started from the wrong place, the right hon. Gentleman has ended in the wrong place.

Mr. Scott

Within the social security system there is always a need to look at patterns of expenditure, and we take them into account as we make our judgments about levels of benefit.

There is another important aspect to the system as well —providing, to the greatest extent possible, incentives for people to get back into employment. If expectations of earnings are lower for one group than for an older group, yet the benefits paid tend to close the gap and thus reduce the incentive to get back into work, that is a negative aspect of the pattern of provision.

Mr. Terry Rooney (Bradford, North)

Will the Minister cast his mind back to the time when the contributions rate was much lower and when there was an earnings-related element in unemployment benefit? Surely it is much fairer to have a standard flat rate entitlement, and different earnings expectations can be reflected in the additional premium incorporated as an earnings-related element.

Mr. Scott

We could argue this matter at great length and no doubt will do so when the new allowance is introduced. There will be ample opportunity then to conduct the discussion in the House. Whether I will still be a Social Security Minister then is a matter for debate, but if experience is anything to go by, I look forward to taking part in the discussions.

It is worth drawing attention to another aspect of the job seeker's allowance—what is known as the hours-allowed-for-partners rule. At the moment, the partner of someone in receipt of benefit may work for 16 hours a week without that being taken into account for purposes of entitlement to benefit. As the House knows, we plan to increase that, from 16 to 24 hours, for the job seeker's allowance.

Mr. Dewar

Our other query was about the dependant's allowance. The Minister is being very helpful so far.

Mr. Scott

A couple's allowance is planned, but not a dependent's allowance, in the sense to which the hon. Gentleman refers.

I should like to answer the points made by the hon. Member for Stockport (Ms Coffey). These matters will be subject to acute parliamentary scrutiny, I have no doubt, when we introduce the incapacity benefit, and the House will turn its mind to the subject when we return from our well-earned Christmas break. I do not want to go into that in detail, except to say that it is right that we should seek to return to a provision for incapacity for work due to disablement or sickness to the principle for which that was first established: that one must be incapable of work if one is to receive compensation. There are other benefits, through unemployment benefit and eventually through the job seeker's allowance, for those who are capable of work but who are unable to get work. Where incapacity manifestly is due to a medical condition, a separate benefit should be available.

It is common ground that entry to the benefit has been too slackly controlled in recent years and that that has led to a considerable increase in the case load for the present benefit at a time when the nation has never been healthier. There has been too little control also over the length of time which people have been able to stay on the benefit without a regular check that they are still entitled to it. As we design the new benefit, we will be at pains to see that those two factors, as well as several others, are taken into account to restore the underlying principle. That principle was the original intention of invalidity benefit and it will apply to the new incapacity benefit.

9. pm

Mr. Dewar

As people who read these debates usually do so with a malicious intent, I had better challenge the statement that there is "common ground" about the entry to invalidity benefit. The Minister will be familiar with the statistic that 53 per cent. of those who are refused invalidity benefit and who go to appeal succeed. That suggests that the benefit is nothing like the soft touch which Ministers seem to think. I would not want the Minister to get the idea that we concede that ground to him.

Mr. Scott

I may have overstated the degree, but I believe that there is a considerable common ground. In the first place, entry to the benefit is by general practitioners. They do not find the task of being a gatekeeper to invalidity benefit attractive. They are under all sorts of social and other pressures to sign people on, rather than applying a purely objective medical test.

We have looked at the appeals procedures and the rules which have applied and developed for invalidity benefit in recent years. We have seen a range of decisions from commissioners and others. Those have had the effect that many aspects of the benefit and the entitlement to benefit, other than those of a strictly medical kind, have been increasingly taken into account.

Ms Coffey

Does the Minister accept that it is difficult to establish objective medical criteria unless one is determining unfitness to work in terms of a specific disease? That is clearly illogical and absurd and may produce opinions which are less than objective, because, although someone may be suffering from a serious incapacity, it does not make them unfit for work.

Intermediate factors, such as tiredness, stress and mental health problems, also may create unfitness. People are concerned because invalidity benefit will in effect have a capping level. Will not the objective test, which does not exist, have little to do with the people who get the benefit, and will it not be determined more by the fact that only so much incapacity benefit can be given each year?

Mr. Scott

I look forward to discussing those matters in greater detail in the new year, no doubt with the hon. Lady and with others. We do not want to get into Committee stage on this Bill or even to the detail of Second Reading at the moment, but it is our intention to acknowledge that certain conditions would indeed class people on their entitlement to the new benefit. A certain number of conditions will be applied which manifestly render someone incapable of work. In addition, a number of functional tests will be applied and we are consulting widely the medical profession and organisations of and for disabled people -on those tests.

Some private consultations have taken place and we will soon be taking part in more open consultations. The results of those consultations will be evaluated against a pilot number of real cases to see whether the evaluation and testing process is correct. That will take place in good time for the introduction of the new benefit. At that time, we will have arrived at a system of objective medical criteria which will be acceptable to the medical profession and which will be clearly understood to be fair and reasonable by those applying for the benefit and by the public. If I go on much further on incapacity benefit, I am in danger of anticipating a number of discussions which we will have when we return from our holidays.

Mr. Dewar

This will be my last intervention on this point, although not necessarily my last on other matters. I am curious about the methodology and the hint given by the Minister about tests which will be carried out on a group. That group would be processed under the new regulations to see whether the Department had got it right. I recognise that it is often difficult to pin down the criteria. To use a parallel, there is an endless argument about the failure rate in examinations where there is a preconceived notion of the number of people who should or should not qualify. I recognise that many hon. Members are shaking their heads, but it is important to establish the facts.

Mr. Scott

I agree that it is an important point. When we were asked to provide an estimate of the numbers who would become entitled to benefit against those who would not qualify for the new benefit, certain figures were given because we were asked to give some assessment, but it was only the best guess that we could make.

I assure the House that we have no intention of setting a target or setting the criteria to achieve that target. We shall set out a clear, objective test which will be acceptable to the medical profession and others and will be perceived as fair throughout the country. Those who pass will get the benefit and those who do not pass will not. If more or fewer people fail, we will have to adapt our expectations.

Mr. Rooney

I am grateful to the Minister for his honesty and openness, although I do not like all the answers that he has given. Can he confirm that the same fiscal effect of a 1 per cent. increase in national insurance contribution rates could have been achieved by raising the upper earnings limit to £30,000 a year?

Mr. Scott

I do not have the answer in front of me. If the hon. Gentleman says that is the case, it may be true. I cannot vouch for his research and I am not sure what validity it has for the argument we are making.

I am still very puzzled about Labour party policy. Labour Members make a great deal about the effect of the upper earnings limit as it exists at the moment, but my understanding was that the shadow Chancellor has resiled from the Opposition's position at the last election regarding moving the upper earnings limit, let alone its abolition, which would be totally inappropriate in the light of current circumstances. I do not need to take that point especially seriously.

I do not want to try the patience of the Committee too much, so I shall draw my remarks to a close. In essence, in clause I we are making the major provisions for the Bill itself.

I remind the Committee that this is the first increase in the major national insurance contribution rates in 11 years. the two-tier structure for employees which we introduced in 1989 has been more progressive than the system that existed under the previous Government.

The lowest-paid pay a low percentage of their earnings and get considerable benefits in return. Many people will still pay less than they would have had to do under Labour's single percentage scheme. It is an improvement and I commend the clause to the House.

Mr. Ingram

The Minister has been helpful and our exchanges have elaborated many points. We drifted on to many different issues. Additional queries that were raised as a consequence of that will be dealt with in subsequent regulations and, possibly, new Bills.

However, in the light of tonight's debate, I have to ask my hon. Friends to join me in voting against the clause.

Question put, That the clause stand part of the Bill:

The Committee divided: Ayes 286, Noes 211.

Division No. 55] [9.10 pm
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Bates, Michael
Alexander, Richard Batiste, Spencer
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Bellingham, Henry
Allason, Rupert (Torbay) Bendall, Vivian
Amess, David Beresford, Sir Paul
Ancram, Michael Biffen, Rt Hon John
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Blackburn, Dr John G.
Ashby, David Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Aspinwall, Jack Booth, Hartley
Atkinson, David (Bour'mouth E) Boswell, Tim
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Bottomley, Peter (Eltham)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia
Baldry, Tony Bowden, Andrew
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Bowis, John
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes
Brandreth, Gyles Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N)
Brazier, Julian Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Bright, Graham Hague, William
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie (Epsom)
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Hampson, Dr Keith
Browning, Mrs. Angela Hannam, Sir John
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Hargreaves, Andrew
Budgen, Nicholas Harris, David
Burns, Simon Haselhurst, Alan
Burt, Alistair Hawkins, Nick
Butcher, John Hawksley, Warren
Butler,Peter Heald, Oliver
Butterfill, John Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L.
Carlisle, John (Luton North) Hill, James (Southampton Test)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham)
Carrington, Matthew Horam, John
Carttiss, Michael Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Cash, William Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Chapman, Sydney Howell, Sir Ralph (N Norfolk)
Clappison, James Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Hunter, Andrew
Coe, Sebastian Jack, Michael
Colvin, Michael Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Congdon, David Jenkin, Bernard
Conway, Derek Jessel, Toby
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre For'st) Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Jones, Gwilym(Cardiff N)
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr)
Cormack, Patrick Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Couchman, James Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Cran, James Key, Robert
Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire) Kilfedder, Sir James
Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon) King, Rt Hon Tom
Davies, Quentin (Stamford) Kirkhope Timothy
Davis, David (Boothferry) Knapman, Roger
Day, Stephen Knight, Mrs Angela(Erewash)
Deva, Nirj Joseph Knight, Greg Derby N)
Devlin, Tim Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n)
Dicks, Terry Knox, Sir David
Dorrell, Stephen Kynoch, George (Kicardine)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Dover, Den Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Duncan, Alan Lawrence, Sir Ivan
Duncan-Smith, Iain Legg, Barry
Dunn, Bob Leigh, Edward
Durant, Sir Anthony Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Dykes, Hugh Lidington, David
Eggar, Tim Lightbown, David
Elletson, Harold Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Evans, David(Welwyn Hatfield) Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Evans, Jonathan(Brecon) Lord, Michael
Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley) Luff, Peter
Evans, Roger (Monmouth) Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Evennett, David MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Faber, David MacKay, Andrew
Fabricant, Michael Maclean, David
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas McLoughlin, Patrick
Fenner, Dame Peggy McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Madel, David
Fishburn, Dudley Maitland, Lady Olga
Forman, Nigel Malone, Gerald
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Mans, Keith
Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring) Marland, Paul
Fox, Sir Marcus(Shipley) Marlow, Tony
Freeman, Rt Hon Roger Marshall, John(Hendon S)
French, Douglas Marshall, Sir Michael (Arundel)
Fry, Peter Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Gale, Roger Mates, Michael
Gallie, Phil Mawhinney, Dr Brain
Gardiner, Sir George Merchant, Piers
Garnier, Edward Milligan, Stephen
Gill, Christopher Mills, Iain
Gillan, Cheryl Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Goodlad Rt Hon Alastair Mitchell, Sir David(Hans NW)
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Moate, Sir Roger
Gorst, John Monro, Sir Hector
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Moss, Malcolm
Needham, Richard Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Nelson, Anthony Stephen, Michael
Neubert, Sir Michael Stern, Michael
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Stewart, Allan
Nicholls, Patrick Streeter, Gary
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Sumberg, David
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Sweeney, Walter
Norris, Steve Sykes, John
Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley Tapsell, Sir Peter
Oppenheim, Phillip Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Ottaway, Richard Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Page, Richard Temple-Morris, Peter
Paice, James Thomason, Roy
Patnick, Irvine Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Pawsey, James Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Thornton, Sir Malcolm
Pickles, Eric Thurnham, Peter
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Townend, John (Bridlington)
Porter, David (Waveney) Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Tracey, Richard
Powell, William (Corby) Tredinnick, David
Redwood, Rt Hon John Trend, Michael
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Trotter, Neville
Richards, Rod Twinn, Dr Ian
Riddick, Graham Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Rifkind, Rt Hon. Malcolm Viggers, Peter
Robathan, Andrew Walden, George
Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S) Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Robinson, Mark (Somerton) Waller, Gary
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne) Ward, John
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela Waterson, Nigel
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard Watts, John
Sackville, Tom Wells, Bowen
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Whitney, Ray
Shaw, David (Dover) Whittingdale, John
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Wilkinson, John
Sims, Roger Willetts, David
Skeet, Sir Trevor Wilshire, David
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Soames, Nicholas Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Speed, Sir Keith Wolfson, Mark
Spencer, Sir Derek Wood, Timothy
Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset) Yeo, Tim
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Spink, Dr Robert
Spring, Richard Tellers for the Ayes:
Sproat, Iain Mr. Robert G. Hughes and
Squire, Robin (Hornchurch) Mr. James Arbuthnot.
Abbott, Ms Diane Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Adams, Mrs Irene Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Ainger, Nick Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Canavan, Dennis
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Cann, Jamie
Armstrong, Hilary Chisholm, Malcolm
Ashton, Joe Clapham, Michael
Austin-Walker, John Clark, Dr David (South Shields)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Barnes, Harry Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)
Battle, John Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Bayley, Hugh Coffey, Ann
Beith, Rt Hon A. J. Cohen, Harry
Bell, Stuart Cook, Frank(Stockton N)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Cook, Robin (Livingston)
Bennett, Andrew F. Corbett, Robin
Benton, Joe Corbyn, Jeremy
Bermingham, Gerald Corston, Ms Jean
Berry, Dr. Roger Cousins, Jim
Betts, Clive Cox, Tom
Blair, Tony Cryer, Bob
Boyes, Roland Cummings, John
Bradley, Keith Cunliffe, Lawrence
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE)
Burden, Richard Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John
Byers, Stephen Darling, Alistair
Caborn, Richard Davidson, Ian
Callaghan, Jim Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Maddock, Mrs Diana
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'dge H'l) Mahon, Alice
Denham, John Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Dewar, Donald Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Dixon, Don Maxton, John
Dobson, Frank Meache, Michael
Donohoe, Brian H. Meale, Alan
Dunnachie, Jimmy Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Milburn, Alan
Eagle, Ms Angela Miller, Andrew
Eastham, Ken Moonie, Dr Lewis
Enright, Derek Morgan, Rhodri
Evans, John (St Helens N) Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)
Fatchett, Derek Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Flynn, Paul Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Mudie, George
Foulkes, George Mullin, Chris
Fraser, John Murphy, Paul
Fyfe, Maria Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Gapes, Mike O'Brein, Michael (N W'kshire)
Garrett, John O'Hara, Edward
George, Bruce Olner, William
Gerrard, Neil Parry, Robert
Godman, Dr Norman A. Patchett, Terry
Golding, Mrs Llin Pickthall, Colin
Graham, Thomas Pike, Peter L.
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Pope, Greg
Gunnell, John Powell, Ray(Ogmore)
Hain, Peter Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lew'm E)
Hall, Mike Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Hanson, David Primarolo, Dawn
Hardy, Peter Radice, Giles
Heppell, John Randall, Stuart
Hill, Keith (Streatham) Raynsford, Nick
Hoey, Kate Reid, Dr John
Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld) Rendel, David
Home Robertson, John Robertson, George(Hamilton)
Hood, Jimmy Robinson, Geoffrey,(Co'try NW)
Hoon, Geoffrey Roche, Mrs. Barbara
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Rooney,Terry
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Ross, Ernie(Dundee W)
Hoyle, Doug Rowlands, Ted
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N) Ruddock, Joan
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Simpson, Alan
Hutton, John Skinner, Dennis
Illsley, Eric Smith, Andrew(Oxford E)
Ingram, Adam Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury)
Jackson, Glenda (H'stead) Smith, Rt Hon John (M'Kl'ds E)
Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H) Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Jamieson, David Snape, Peter
Johnston, Sir Russell Soley, Clive
Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side) Spearing, Nigel
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Spellar, John
Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O) Stott, Roger
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Keen, Alan Taylor, Rt Hon John D. (Strgfd)
Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn) Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Khabra, Piara S. Tyler, Paul
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn) Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Kirkwood, Archy Wallace, James
Leighton, Ron Walley, Joan
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Wardell, Gareth(Gower)
Lewis, Terry Wareing, Robert N
Litherland, Robert Watson, Mike
Livingstone, Ken Welsh, Andrew
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Wicks, Malcolm
Llwyd, Elfyn Wigley, Dafydd
Loyden, Eddie Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Lynne, Ms Liz Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
McAllion, John Winnick, David
McAvoy, Thomas Wise, Audrey
Macdonald, Calum Wray, Jimmy
McKelvey, William Wright, Dr Tony
Mackinlay, Andrew Young, David(Bolton SE)
McLeish, Henry
McMaster, Gordon Tellers for the Noes:
McNamara, Kevin Mr. Jim Dowd and
McWilliam, John Mr. Peter Kilfoyle
Madden, Max

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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